I am so sorry to have missed not only two days of reviews, but also replying to your wonderful comments. My new–less than a year old–laptop died, or at least it looks that way. While doing a restart, it twirled its little blue circle for close to fifteen minutes (it is solid state and should start and restart faster than you can clap your hands and say, “Abracadabra), and then it went black. It was still on, is still on, but the screen remains black and the machine silent. So off to the manufacturer, or wherever Best Buy sends computers they cannot fix in-house, for a nice one to two month vacation. Hopefully it will return refreshed and ready to get back to work. If not, well, I’ll worry about that if it happens.
So, if you visit Kid Lit Reviews and find the review is the same as the day before, I took a day off. If a review hangs around the Homepage for two or more days, a computer crisis has occurred and I will be back as soon as possible. The laptop I am using now is the one that breaks down more now than then, and the current ill machine was to have replaced. I am beginning to think CPU’s do not like me. Enough of that. Let’s move on to today’s review. The little girl, named Gabe, does not like the number on her jersey. What will the determined nine-year-old do about her situation?
written by Roy MacGregor
illustrated by Geneviève Després
Tundra Books of Northern New York 2/11/2014
Age 4 to 8 32 pages
“Nine-year-old Gabe (DON’T call her Gabriella), Murray eats, sleeps and breathes hockey. Her lucky number is 22, the same number as her hero, Hayley Wickenheiser. But when hew new coach hands out the team jerseys, Gabe is stuck with number 9. She’s crushed. How can she play without her lucky number? Gabe’s grandmother, Gabriella (DON’T call her Gabe), soon sets her straight. The number 9 has a long and interesting history and little Gabe has to lots to learn about the players who wore it—including Gabriella herself. Gabe begins to see that the number 9 isn’t so bad after all . . . “
“Today, Gabe had made The Spirit, the best hockey team in town.”
Nine-year-old Gabe is the only nine-year-old on The Spirit team. Some would say this is quite an accomplishment, but not if they knew Gabe. Gabe loves hockey. She even has a tricky puck move called “The Gabe.” Her lucky number, the number she always wears, is number 22, the same number as Hayley Wickenheiser, a Canadian women’s hockey legend and Olympic hero. This is also the source of Gabe’s problem. She is assigned jersey number 9, not 22. She can’t play as number 9. She won’t play as number 9. So Gabe hides the number 9 jersey, never to be seen again. The Spirit’s first game is tomorrow. Gabe announced she is not playing.
Gabe knows hockey better than most. She loves hockey and is ecstatic about making The Spirit team. She should be ecstatic. Gabe is nine while everyone else is ten. This is really a big deal. Gabe assumed she would get jersey number 22 because she has always played in jersey number 22. Gabe even has a practice jersey with that number, which she wore during the team try-outs. The other players jokingly call her “Hayley.” So how could the coach not understand that Gabe wanted, no, needed number 22? Getting jersey number 9 is a deal-breaker. Gabe cannot play in “the worst number in the world.”
I understand Gabe. My number was always 14. I do not think I could have played, at least not well, in any other number. Deciding not to play is rather harsh, especially for someone who lives and breathes hockey. I feel for Gabe. What I really like about this story is Grandma’s role. She shows Gabe a picture from her own hockey days. Back then, she said, number 9 was the lucky number. The best player on every team from peewee to the NHL wore number 9, including Grandma Gabriella. Her own story is the best part of The Highest Number in the World.
Kids who love hockey, especially girls, will love The Highest Number in the World. Those that love sports in general, will like this story. I am sure there are many players out there, be it hockey, baseball, basketball, or any other sport, that can relate to Gabe’s dilemma. As a bonus, the jacket flips into a poster of young Gabe in full gear. The illustrations are terrific from vignettes to spreads. I love spread number 3. Gabe is signing her name and the number 22 on the foggy winter window, practicing her autograph. But the final page holds the best illustration. In gouache is Gabriella, young and old, hand-in-hand, in uniform and on skates, each wearing jersey number 9—the lucky jersey. There is nothing else there, yet one can picture a number 9 jersey raising up to the rafters, immortalizing one name for two great players—“Gabriella.”
THE HIGHEST NUMBER IN THE WORLD. Text copyright © 2014 by Roy MacGregor. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Geneviève Després. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Tundra Books of Northern New York, Plattsburgh, NY.
Learn more about The Highest Number in the World HERE.
Also by Roy MacGregor
Also by Geneviève Després